Wildlife rehab group disappointed most of 122 oiled birds euthanized

WATCH: The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton is calling for something more to be done to protect animals impacted by industry. Vinesh Pratap reports.

EDMONTON – Most of the 122 birds that landed on three separate Athabasca oilsands sites Tuesday had to be euthanized, according to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton.

The group said that was “unfortunate” since it has had “many successes in the cleaning and rehabilitation of contaminated wildlife.”

The WRSE cites its work during the 2005 oil spill at Wabamun Lake and the 2013 bitumen leak in Cold Lake.

Alberta’s energy regulator said three companies — Suncrude, CNRL, and Suncor — reported waterfowl landing or trying to land on oilsands sites Tuesday.

On Wednesday, it was confirmed that 122 birds died after landing on various oilsands infrastructure, including tailings ponds.

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All three companies said their deterrent systems were operational at the time. The regulator said foggy weather may have been a factor.

READ MORE: Reports of birds landing in tailings ponds spark investigation 

In a statement Friday, the wildlife rehabilitation society said:

“WRSE is saddened and troubled by the loss of life of 122 birds at three tailings ponds in northern Alberta.

“We share industry and government’s disappointment in the failure of the deterrents to prevent this.

“We believe that positive steps can be taken to mitigate the effects of our actions on the lives and habitat as they spend everyday fighting for survival.”

The group said more work needs to be done in regards to the stabilization and cleaning of affected birds and to improve the understanding of potential long-term impacts of industry by-products on wildlife.

The WRSE suggested creating an Oiled Wildlife Centre in Edmonton.

“This centre would provide wildlife rescue services and be in a state of readiness for any event, large or small.

“It would also function as an ongoing training and research facility,” the society said, adding it is in the first stages of discussing how this facility could be created.

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A spokesperson for Greenpeace Canada said this latest incident is just more proof deterrent systems aren’t working.

“Industry has known for quite some time that these systems aren’t working, so birds continue to die in these tailings ponds, animals continue to die,” said Mike Hudema.

Environment Canada, Fish and Wildlife, and Environment and Sustainable Resources were all notified.

Neither Alberta’s environment minister nor the energy minister would comment, saying the AER would take the lead. Premier Jim Prentice said he was disappointed, but said he’ll withhold judgement until the results of the AER investigation are released.